Thursday, 1 May 2014

Day 24: Lien Son to Lam Ha - BDC #3

Lien Son to Lam Ha 100km

“I hear there’s a really funny lamb in this town” mutters our comedian Luke Chest-hairs at the team meeting the eve before the day’s ride.

I had been looking forward to this day of the ride very much. Last year, I was in a motorbike accident and was unable to ride on this day. I was very happy to have the opportunity to do it again with such a wonderful team. Last year, it was definitely an EBD as it presented the majority of the 2013 team with several challenges other than the 30km climb during the latter of the day. I was ready to get revenge on this day.

I woke up a little groggy, but ready to go. Team stretching was led by our drill sergeant, Mr. McCance. “Jacqui, we don’t stop until you start!!” (high knees). We gave our girl Becky a call, only to hear some more amazing progress on her end! Spirits high, tires pumped, ready to roll (AND on time for the first morning!!)

I made the team aware that they were going to get to see some H2H history this morning. Around 10k outside of Lien Son was the spray paint outline of the crash lines of my bicycle and the motorbike that had hit me. There are some things I’ll never understand about Vietnam, like what purpose it serves to outline vehicle vessels at crash sites as if it were in an episode of CSI. However, it’s amusing to revisit a patch of tarmac that holds such a personal and interesting memory. I took the drivers “semi-permanent” can of spray paint and wrote “H2H Lives!” over the accident crash lines. Childish? Quite possibly, but I finally felt closure and no longer harbor resentment about the event that took place 367 days ago.

Today, my head was filled with music and nostalgia. The sun was brightly shining down on the greens, browns, and red mountains through the lenses of my fake two-dollar Dior sunglasses. I think you should only cycle with brown lenses. It’s much more aesthetically appealing than black lenses. Anyways, the red dirt and rock of the scenery reminded me something out of Nevada or Arizona. The sun was beating down and shining similar to the desert heat in those parts of the US. There were also parts of the mountainside that were being burnt down to help aid in natural regeneration process. The sight and the smell reminded me of bonfires. Oh, how I really envisioned this ride ending with a couple of tents and a bonfire. I miss bonfires. I had been riding in my own head accompanied by The Avett Brothers, Railroad Earth, The Killers, and Kings of Leon. My own unofficial theme song of this 2014 ride is titled "King of the Rodeo" by K.O.L.; “Good time to roll on” sounds so fitting as I’m pedaling to my next destination, marveling at the scenery that pleasantly reminds me of youthful times. I feel completely present and engrossed in the beautiful blue skies and scenery that surrounds me. I’m in it.

I catch up to the absolutely amazing Natasha and pull out the tunes for a bit. We spend maybe an hour or so riding together soaking in all of the scenery that looks completely different from anything else that we’ve rode through thus far. Minute after minute, kilometer after kilometer goes by as we enjoy each other’s company as we naturally (in true female fashion) chat about boys, boys and boys! I really hope I was using that Go-Pro camera correctly and didn’t record anything during such a sensitive conversation!

Next thing you know, 60km is down the hatch and I arrived at our lunch stop. I fuel up, have one damn amazing cup of café sua da and then it’s time to finish up phase 2 of the ride; a steady 30km on a gradual incline followed by a 10km descent to the town of Lam Ha. I take off on my own; Americana playlist back in the ear buds.

The scenery throughout rural Vietnam never ceases to amaze me. The dusty red Arizona landscape that I was first encompassed by then changed to a deep, hunter-green mountain top stroll. Now, I’m breathing in fresh countryside air that brings back memories of being raised in upstate New York. I’m dying for that bonfire, a couple of cold ones, and good company more than ever. At least I’ve been completely surrounded by two out of the three for the past twenty-four days .

The gradual uphill doesn’t even phase me because I’m surrounded by two things that can truly make me very happy; music and beautiful nature. I’m riding through lush, evergreen mountain tops and a backdrop of the bluest sky painted with white puffy clouds.  "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers rings through my ears as I pedal on and on taking deep breaths of the fresh air and beauty that surrounds me. I’m still completely in it.

Near the end of the ride, I catch up with the wonderful Chris Thai. We always seem to ride with each other at some point during these Beautiful Challenge Days. Our conversation is a bit less appropriate to mention, but we laugh and ride on together to the summit of our ride. I see a downhill ahead of us and mention “Don’t get too excited just yet, I don’t think this is the end of the climb. I wish I could be proved wrong though.” Moments later, I was indeed proved wrong. We just kept going down. Did I really just finish that gradual 30km climb already? Well, apparently.

Mind over matter is something that I’ve preached to my team day in and day out. Appreciate every kilometer as it comes. Today my thoughts were entirely encompassed through music, nostalgia, beautiful scenery and good company and I didn’t once think about the fact that I needed to cycle 100km with a 30km climb. Just like that, the day was done. Put to rest and behind me. Evil Bitch Day? Please. Most definitely a Beautiful Challenge Day where the only challenge was keeping my brain positive.

Words by Andrea

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